Post Imperial

My friend in the Netherlands came through over Skype as if he was just down the street.  We were chatting about global economics when the fear of losing our global dominance naturally came up as a discussion of Empire.  “If the end of your Empire is what people fear, I have to tell them, we live with that every day over here and … it’s not bad at all.”  The Netherlands wasn’t a huge empire, but it was able to shed its possessions in Indonesia and the Caribbean without missing them all that much.  Life went on.

That sentiment appears to also be playing out in the UK as well as many other former great globe-straddling forces that have quietly turned inward.  The US is facing the same situation and it weighs heavily on our politics and economy.  But it shouldn’t.  Life after Empire isn’t the barbarian-sacked end of Rome, it’s simply the natural progression of Liberty that we should embrace if we’re going to master it rather than let it destroy us.

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The War on Reality

The talk is military and very macho.  Targets are placed on maps and the need for vigilance is constantly stressed.  There’s a war going on in the USofA, pitting two opposing camps against each other in a death match.  There can be no quarter given as we learn of new fronts opening up every day.  The enemy is all around us, mysterious forces forming one big movement that threatens our Way of Life™.  But who is the enemy?

Welcome to the War on Reality.  It’s like the War on Drugs … on drugs!

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State of Jobs

In a world with a short attention span, the long grinding story of our economy rarely comes up for any significant discussion except when there is something new.  Lately the only genuine “news” related to financial conditions is how states are being dragged down and how their problems can be used as a bludgeon.  While today’s fights play out in state capitols and the streets around them, tomorrow’s stories might be a bit different.  Those stories won’t change until we see improvement in jobs.

While there are some good signs, we’re still in a holding pattern near what looks like a bottom.  Here is a detailed explanation of the problem – and what to look for.

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Snow Daze

How snowy is it?  It’s so snowy that … I’m not in a mood to joke.  The Midwest in general has seen more snow than any of us would like.  As of today the official total for the season at the MSP Airport is over 72 inches, putting us on a pace as the second snowiest Winter ever (behind 1981-82 by just under 4 inches).  That’s six feet of snow, about two meters.  Once it’s taller than I am, I give up.

The record total, set in 1983-84, is 98.4 inches total.  That’s over 8 feet. It took a very snowy March that year to give them the record.  How snowy is March?  Last year, for the very first time, we had … no snow at all.  So you never know in the middle of a big continent.  Follow the link to this and more information than you could possibly ever want on weather for nearly 200 years here.

But could this mean anything?

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Consensus

Tens of thousands of people have filled the Capitol grounds in Madison.  They have taken over the marble hall itself, banging on the doors of the Senate Chamber and making noise not normally heard in Wisconsin outside of a Harley rally.  The Senate Democrats have fled the state, stopping all action for lack of a quorum.  It’s hardly business as usual in a state that is generally known for hard work and quiet contemplation, at least when the Packers aren’t playing.  What will happen?

The way out is the same way that the good people of Wisconsin and all over the USofA have gotten through this before.  Our traditions, sometime enshrined in our Constitutions, laws, and legislative rules are all there for some very good reasons.

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Pledge Drive!

It’s Pledge Drive time at Minnesota Public Radio!  This Winter’s pitch for bucks comes at the same time Congress is (once again) looking to slash funding for public broadcasting.  That means one thing to me – I better get my own Pledge Drive in while I can.

Welcome to the first ever Barataria in-blog Pledge Drive!  There’s a survey at the end where you can tell me just what you think anonymously and easily, whether you give or not.

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Saint Paul’s Community School Plan

Saint Paul Public schools, like just about every school district in the US, is in a bit of trouble.  Budget cuts, declining enrollment, and the K-12 funding “delay” in Minnesota are all taking their toll.  They’re responded with a plan called “Schools at the Heart of the community” that addresses this and a lot more of their lingering problems all in one grand strategic plan.

Does this plan work?  I think it does.  There are a few questions and suggestions that I have outstanding, but overall this shows what a dedicated group of public servants can do under extraordinary circumstances.  They also appear to be listening to the public as they shop this plan around, meaning it will probably only get better.  I’m impressed and I want to add what I can to both the thanks and the suggestions.

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